Hi Ralph and others,
I reckon the mystery bird is a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike. In the Wagga
Wagga area, they are more likely to be seen in woodland areas, especially
riverine woodlands, and are rarely seen in open farmland. One particular
form of this species has a black head and chest (see Slater field guide, p.
211 for a rather plump version of the bird!!) but is otherwise that soft
grey typical of the Cuckoo-shrikes on its back.
At 06:16 PM 26-10-00 +1000, you wrote:
>A plea for help in identification from a (very) amateur birder.
>Whilst at Coolamon (c. 40 km west of Wagga Wagga) about 5 weeks ago, I saw a
>bird sitting on top of a wire fence about 50-60 metres away, facing away
>from me at an angle of about 45 degrees, so I only saw if from the rear
>quarter. It was a very slim built bird, about 30 cm long overall (about
>18-20 cm body, 10-12 cm tail) and was a very light grey all over (this was
>very noticeable), except for the head and neck which were totally black;
>there was definitely no other sign of any colour visible. The demarcation
>between the two colours was also very noticeable; it was very distinct, as
>if a line had been drawn round the neck. The head appeared smallish and
>round in profile. The tail appeared, while it was perched, to be closely
>gathered and extended straight out in line with the body (not cocked or
>elevated). I did not see it fly away, as I glanced away at what I was doing
>at the time, so could not say anything about under-wing or tail markings.
>Was not close enough (the aging eyesight being what it is) to get any detail
>of eye, beak or legs. I got the impression that the beak was shortish, but
>could not be totally sure.
>I have looked all through my small collection (3) of guides, and cannot see
>anything that looks even *remotely* like it.
>I give up.
>Any ideas, please?
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